Updated: July 17, 2012
Domestic Energy Policy - Vote Passed (248-163, 21 Not Voting) - The second catch-all measure combined several provisions aimed at boosting domestic energy production. Drawdowns from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would be coupled with an equivalent percentage of federal land being made available for oil and gas production. Various EPA rules would be suspended while a new task force studies their effect on gas prices. A process similar to the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review would be created to examine America's long-term energy needs. Permitting for energy projects would be streamlined, including the creation of a $5,000 fee for filing protests against drilling permits. The bill would also allow live auctions conducted over the Internet for Bureau of Land Mana gement leases and would mandate oil and gas leasing in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve. Democrats offered a motion to recommit that would have prohibited the biggest oil companies from receiving new leases under the bill unless they waived certain tax benefits. Not surprisingly that idea didn't have legs with Republicans. Conversely, the bill itself will go nowhere with the Democratic Senate. If it does somehow pass both houses, the president has issued a veto threat.
Motion to Instruct Conferees – Highway Bill - Vote Passed (260-138, 34 Not Voting) - Late last week it appeared that there was momentum toward agreement on passage of a two-year surface transportation reauthorization measure. Supposedly Senate negotiators have made concessions to House demands on issues such as environmental permitting and transportation enhancements funding. Another point of contention has been the potential regulation by EPA of coal ash, a byproduct of coal combustion that road builders in some states use when making asphalt. House negotiators have insisted on pre-empting EPA and allowing states to regulate coal ash as they see fit. This House vote would insist on a measure to that effect being included in any final highway bill.
Energy-Water Appropriations - Vote Passed (255-165, 11 Not Voting) - The House passed three FY 2013 appropriations bills last week, the first of which covered funding for the Department of Energy (DOE), Army Corps of Engineers and water development projects under the Interior Department, as well as various independent agencies including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This is typically a non-controversial measure, but that did not stop Members from forcing nearly three dozen amendment votes on the floor. Most of these involved either shifting funds from one program area to another or barring funding for an activity disliked by a particular Member. Very few amendments passed. The underlying bill would increase funding for DOE’s nuclear weapons programs by $298 million and cut the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) account within the Energy Department by $428 million. Several Democratic amendments attempted to restore EERE funding, but each was turned aside. The bill would also prohibit the closure of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository, a priority of President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. The President has issued a veto threat on the measure.
Medical Device Tax Repeal - Vote Passed (270-146, 15 Not Voting) - House Republicans, with the help of 37 Democrats, passed a bill last week repealing the 2.3-percent tax on medical devices that was included as a pay-for in the 2010 health care overhaul. Bundled into the device tax repeal bill was a separate measure ending the overhaul’s restriction on using certain tax-preferred accounts to buy over-the-count drugs, and a third provision allowing individuals to recoup up to $500 remaining in their FSAs at the end of a plan year. The measure would be paid for by lifting caps on liability for overpayments of subsidized coverage under the overhaul. President Obama has threatened to veto the measure. Senator Scott P. Brown, R-Mass. and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah have intr oduced device tax repeal bills in the upper chamber, neither of which has attracted Democratic cosponsors.
Homeland Security Appropriations - Vote Passed (234-182, 15 Not Voting) - Second on the approps docket last week was funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Several provisions in the House measure have caused consternation among House Democrats and the Administration. These include a new limitation on the ability of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to provide abortions for detainees and cuts to a program that provides alternatives (such as electronic monitoring) to detention for individuals who are in deportation proceedings. Sure to cause additional heartburn for Democrats is an amendment offered by Steve King, R-Iowa to bar funding for the Administration’s "prosecutorial discretion" policy in targeting certain illegal immigrants for deportation. The policy, dating to June 2011, instructs ICE personnel to focus their resources on individuals with criminal records and to “consider relevant factors” before targeting certain others, including members of the armed forces, those who came to the United States as children, and high school and college graduates. Republicans have called this policy "administrative amnesty." King’s amendment passed, mostly along party lines (Roll Call #363). The president has threatened to veto the bill.
Legislative Branch Appropriations - Vote Passed (307-102, 22 Not Voting) - Last but not least (at least not for lawmakers), the House passed its measure funding FY 13 spending on legislative branch operations. The measure provides funding for Member and committee offices and operations of agencies such as the Library of Congress, Capitol Police, Congressional Research Service (CRS), and Government Accountability Office (GAO). The House bill would cut funding for House operations by one percent, hold CRS flat and give bumps of six, two, and one percent to the Capitol Police, GAO and the Congressional Budget Office respectively. A 10 percent cut to the Architect of the Capitol means that ongoing restoration of the Capitol dome would be placed on hold. Funding for Senat e operations will be taken up by the Senate Appropriations committee.
FDA User Fee Reauthorization - Vote Passed (387-5, 39 Not Voting) - Fresh on the heels of Senate passage, the House last week passed its version of FDA user fee legislation with a show of overwhelming support. The bill would reauthorize the FDA to impose user fees on drug and device manufacturers for five years. Unlike the Senate bill, there was little controversy surrounding the reauthorization in the House, as evidenced by the final vote tally. The bill was considered under suspension of the rules, an expedited procedure requiring a two-thirds majority for passage. At this point the House and Senate will move to conference to iron out a few minor differences. Both chambers have reportedly set a goal of July 4 for getting a final product to the president's desk.
Sex-Selective Abortion Ban - Vote Failed (246-168, 17 Not Voting) - Occasioning considerably more controversy than the FDA bill, the House also considered legislation to criminalize the administering or facilitating of abortions based on the sex of the fetus. The practice, known as sex-selective abortion, has long been associated with countries such as China and India, where social and economic pressures can lead to families to abort females at much higher rates than males. Republicans contend that this practice has reached the United States; Democrats say there is insufficient evidence and that a blanket ban would be unenforceable in any case. Despite garnering majority support, the measure failed because it was considered under suspension of the rules.
Intelligence Authorization - Vote Passed (386-28, 17 Not Voting) - The House passed legislation to authorize funding for the 16 intelligence agencies last week. Although total funding levels are classified, the bill would fund agencies such as the CIA and National Security Agency at a level above President Obama's request of $71.8 billion, according to Intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich. and ranking member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md. A handful of amendments were adopted during debate, including one offered by Michigan Democrat John Conyers, Jr. to require a report from the director of national intelligence on the consequences of a military strike against Iran. The Senate has not yet moved on its authorization bill, but action is expected at the c ommittee level sometime this summer.
Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Appropriations - Vote Passed (407-12, 12 Not Voting) - The House passed its second FY13 appropriations bill last week, providing funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs and for military construction and housing. The bill would provide $71.7 billion in discretionary funds, including $60.6 billion for the VA and $10.6 billion for base construction and military family housing. A provision forbidding agencies from using project labor agreements (PLA) for construction projects was removed from the bill by an amendment from Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y. (Roll Call #302). The PLA language was controversial among most Democrats and a handful of Republicans; its removal sped passage of what is usually a strongly bipartisan bill. Presid ent Obama threatened to veto the bill because the House GOP has set total FY13 appropriations levels below what had been agreed to in last year's debt-ceiling standoff. Because the House kept funding levels in this bill constant with last year, deeper cuts will be necessary in other appropriations bills, which the administration views as unacceptable.
Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization - Vote Passed (222-205, 4 Not Voting) - The House last week passed its version of a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Originally passed in 1994, the bill had been reauthorized twice without controversy until this year. The Senate version (S 1925), passed April 26, created several new provisions to which the House objected, such as expanding protections to include LGBT victims. President Obama has threatened to veto the House bill. While it looked like the two bills were headed to a conference committee following House passage, it was discovered late last week that the Senate bill contained a revenue-raising provision, causing the House to raise constitutional objections. The path forward at this point is not clear.
Suspension Vote: Iran Sanctions Resolution - Vote Passed (401-11, 9 Present, 10 Not Voting) - In a shot across the bow of world leaders gathered last weekend for the G8 Summit, the House loudly expressed its position on Iran. While reiterating that it is a “vital national interest” of the United States to prevent Iran from acquiring a “nuclear capability,” the resolution also comes down firmly against any proposed “containment” policy. Debate has raged about what U.S. “red lines” are with regard to Iran’s uranium enrichment program, and there is some question as to what exactly a “nuclear capability” would mean. If it means having a certain amount of enriched uranium, for example, that is a much different standar d than having the ability to arm a missile with a nuclear warhead. Perhaps with that in mind, the resolution also demands that Iran end its ballistic missile program.
Flood Insurance Extension - Vote Passed (402-18, 11 Not Voting) - Hoping to avoid a May 31 expiration date, the House passed a short-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program. The bill would extend the program’s authorization through June 30, allowing homeowners living in flood zones to purchase private insurance. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., attempted to pass a different extension last week by unanimous consent, but Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., objected. Republicans in both chambers want a complete overhaul of the program in exchange for a multi-year extension.
National Defense Authorization, FY 2013 - Vote Passed (299-120, 12 Not Voting) - The House passed its version of the annual defense policy bill last week following two days of debate and dozens of amendments. The bill would provide $643 billion for FY 13, including $88.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan. The topline figure exceeds agreed-upon spending levels from last year’s Budget Control Act (PL 112-25) by $8 billion. Amendment debate ranged widely, from the sale of fighter jets to Taiwan to the detention of terrorism suspects arrested on U.S. soil. President Obama has issued a veto threat on this bill. The Senate Armed Services Committee is slated to mark up its version this week.
Suspension Vote: Export-Import Bank Reauthorization - Vote Passed (330-93, 8 Not Voting) - This bill would extend the charter of the Export-Import Bank of the United States through FY 2014. It would allow the bank's lending limit to rise incrementally to $140 billion (from $100 billion currently). HR 2072 passed under suspension of the rules, meaning the support of at least two thirds of all Members voting (in this case 282) is required for passage. The Senate will take up H.R.2072 on Monday, May 14, with a cloture vote scheduled.
Suspension Vote: U.S.-Israel Cooperation - Vote Passed (411-2, 9 Present, 9 Not Voting) - This bill states that it shall be U.S. policy to deepen cooperation with Israel in a wide variety of areas, particularly regarding Israel’s "qualitative military edge" over regional rivals; to veto anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations; and to assist Israel in ongoing negotiations on a two-state solution. The bill also extends U.S.-government-backed loan guarantees to Israel through FY 2015. HR 4133 passed under suspension of the rules, meaning the support of at least two thirds of all Members voting (in this case 276) is required for passage.
Sequester Replacement - Vote Passed (218-199, 1 Present, 13 Not Voting) - This bill cancels the automatic discretionary spending cuts instituted by last year's debt-ceiling agreement and replaces those cuts with a different set of reductions to a variety of mandatory spending programs, as well as a reduction on the overall spending limit for all FY 2013 appropriations bills. The bill separately eliminates the cap on defense spending instituted by the debt-limit agreement to accommodate a higher level of spending in that area. The Senate is unlikely to take up this bill. The President has issued a veto threat.
Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations, FY 2013 - Vote Passed (247-163, 21 Not Voting) - This appropriations bill provides $51.1 billion dollars in funding in FY 2013 for the departments of Commerce and Justice and other agencies such as NASA and the National Science Foundation. This funding level would be $1.8 billion less than in FY 2012 and $731 million less than the president requested for the upcoming fiscal year. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the bill on April 19, but floor time has not been scheduled. The President has threatened a veto on the House version.
Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act - Vote Passed (248-168, 15 Not Voting) - This House bill directs the Director of National Intelligence to develop procedures to share cyber-threat information on a voluntary basis between the government's intelligence community and the private sector. The White House has threatened to veto the bill.
Interest Rate Reduction Act - Vote Passed (215-195, 22 Not Voting) - The House passed this bill that would keep the interest rate for government-subsidized student loans at 3.4 percent. The rate is scheduled to rise to 6.8 percent on July 1, 2012. To offset the estimated $6 billion cost of maintaining the current interest rate, the bill would repeal the $12 billion Prevention and Public Health Fund which was created by the 2010 health care reform bill. The White House supports keeping the current interest rate, but has threatened to veto this bill.
Sportsmen's Heritage Act of 2012 - Vote Passed (274-146, 11 Not Voting) - This bill would codify the use of public lands for recreational hunting, shooting and fishing unless the Bureau of Land Management or the Forest Service determines it is necessary to prohibit those activities. The Senate is unlikely to take up the measure.
Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II - Vote Passed (293-127, 11 Not Voting) - The House passed this three-month highway and transportation program bill that will serve as the vehicle to negotiate a long-term bill with the Senate. The Senate passed a two-year, $109 billion bill in March. House Republicans would like a five year bill. The current extension runs out June 30, 2012.
Small Business Tax Cut Act - Vote Passed (235-173, 1 Present, 22 Not Voting) - This House bill would give businesses with fewer than 500 employees a 20 percent tax deduction for the 2012 tax year. The bill is unlikely to advance in the Senate.
Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2011 - Vote Passed (247-174, 10 Not Voting) - The House passed this bill that would overhaul Federal Communications Commission regulatory procedures and curb the agency's ability to set conditions on transactions related to corporate mergers and acquisitions. The bill's future is uncertain.
Surface Transportation Extension Act - Vote Passed (266-158, 7 Not Voting) - On Thursday the House passed this bill to extend authorization for surface transportation programs through June 30. The Senate cleared the bill by voice vote later the same day, sending the bill to the president. President Obama signed it the next day. This extension gives the House and Senate more time to negotiate a long-term transportation bill.
Democratic Alternative Budget - Vote Failed (163-262, 6 Not Voting) - The Democrats offered a substitute budget amendment that would provide $1.05 trillion in discretionary spending for fiscal 2013, including $546 billion for defense spending. The amendment includes a permanent extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the middle class, but would end nearly $1 trillion in tax cuts for millionaires and close a variety of corporate tax loopholes. The amendment was rejected.
Fiscal 2013 House Budget Resolution - Vote Passed (228-191, 12 Not Voting) - The House passed this budget resolution providing for $1.03 trillion in discretionary spending. That amount is $19 billion less than the discretionary target agreed to as part of last summer's deal to raise the debt ceiling. The resolution calls for spending cuts through restructuring Medicare, converting Medicaid and the food stamp program into block grants to states, and repealing the 2010 health care law. It also calls for an overhaul of the tax code. The Senate is likely to reject the House budget resolution.
Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011 - Vote Passed (223-181, 4 Present, 23 Not Voting) - The House passed this bill that would eliminate the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) and cap damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. IPAB was created by the 2010 health care law and is charged with finding savings in Medicare spending. It has no members yet. The Senate is unlikely to take up the bill.
Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2011 - Vote Passed (265-154, 13 Not Voting) - The House passed this bill that would encourage the development of small-scale hydropower facilities on federal lands. The bill's future in the Senate is unclear.
Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act - Vote Passed (390-23, 19 Not Voting) - This House bill would ease reporting and regulatory requirements for small businesses trying to raise capital in order to take the company public. The White House supports the bill, but its path in the Senate is unclear.
Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act - Vote Passed (303-114, 16 Not Voting) - The House passed this bill that would overturn an Education Department regulation defining credit hours and rules education institutions must adhere to in order to operate in a state. The bill is intended to ease regulations on the for-profit education industry.
Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act - Vote Passed (246-175, 1 Present, 11 Not Voting) - This House bill is intended to increase access to water for agricultural and municipal uses in the San Joaquin Valley in California. The Senate is unlikely to take up the measure.
Protecting Investment in Oil Shale the Next Generation of Environmental, Energy, and Resource Security Act - Vote Passed (237-187, 10 Not Voting) - The House passed the first part of the surface transportation authorization bill, which has been divided into three parts. This part deals with energy and would use oil and gas revenue to fund transportation projects.
Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act - Vote Passed (293-132, 8 Not Voting) - The House passed this agreement to extend the Social Security payroll tax rate cut, which was reduced from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent last year, through the end of 2012. The bill also extends certain unemployment benefits and Medicare physician payment rates through the end of the year. The Senate passed the bill a short time later, clearing it for the president's signature.
Budget and Accounting Transparency Act - Vote Passed (245-180, 8 Not Voting) - This House bill would incorporate the costs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into the federal budget, change how the government accounts for loan programs, and require federal agencies to post their budget information on their websites. The Senate is unlikely to take up the bill.
Expedited Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act of 2011 - Vote Passed (254-173, 6 Not Voting) - The House passed this bill to give the president a line-item veto and rescission authority over discretionary spending bills. The bill would give Congress three days to vote to accept or reject the presidents’ rescissions. The White House supports the bill, but the Senate is not expected to take it up.
STOCK Act - Vote Passed (417-2, 14 Not Voting) - The House passed an amended version of this Senate bill that would strengthen rules prohibiting lawmakers, Capitol Hill staff and some executive branch officials from using confidential information to buy or sell stocks. The Senate now will either accept the modified bill or request a conference committee.
Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act - Vote Passed (267-159, 6 Not Voting) - The House voted to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program, a provision in the 2010 health care law that was intended to provide long-term care but was suspended after the Department of Health and Human Services determined it could not be solvent for 75 years as required by the law. The bill's future in the Senate is unclear.
Pro-Growth Budgeting Act of 2011 - Vote Passed (242-179, 11 Not Voting) - This House measure would require the CBO to assess a bill's impact on long-term economic growth. The Senate is unlikely to take up the bill.
Baseline Reform Act of 2011 - Vote Passed (235-177, 20 Not Voting) - This House bill would stop the Congressional Budget Office from incorporating inflation increases into its spending projections. The Senate is unlikely to take up the bill.
FAA Modernization and Reform Act - Vote Passed (248-169, 15 Not Voting) - The House passed this conference report authorizing $15.9 billion per year through 2015 for the Federal Aviation Administration. The Senate is scheduled to take up the measure this week.
Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act - Vote Passed (408-0, 25 Not Voting) - The House passed this bill to change the definition of “ultralight” aircraft in the anti-smuggling statute in order to increase penalties for using them to smuggle drugs. The Senate cleared the measure for the president the next day by unanimous consent. It was the last bill sponsored by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords before her resignation from Congress.
Debt limit disapproval - Vote Passed (239-176, 2 Present, 16 Not Voting) - The House voted to block a $1.2 trillion increase in the $15.2 trillion debt ceiling. With the Senate unlikely to approve a similar measure, the increase will automatically take effect January 27, 2012.
Back to the Index